By: Murtaza Ali Shah
LONDON/OXFORD: Aseefa Bhutto Zardari has said that she will not hesitate to vote for Malala Yousufzai if there comes a time when she decides to join politics to run for a public office in Pakistan.
Speaking to Geo News in Oxford, the youngest daughter of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari said that Malala symbolised bravery and was a “breath of fresh air” for Pakistan. Aseefa Bhutto Zardari attended a jam-packed audience of the Oxford University students and academics to hear Malala Yousufzai’s speech and to extend her support to her. Aseefa was joined during the event by Wajid Shamsul Hasan, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the UK. The event was organised by Pakistan Knowledge Forum, led by Adnan Rafiq.
Aseefa said that Malala had helped project Pakistan in a positive light at the world stage and had helped deprived girls all over the world who seek to obtain education but face difficulties.
Aseefa said that her family, including her brother Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, sister Bakhtwar and their father, supported Malala and her mission of promoting education.
Malala told students in her speech and during questions and answers that Pakistani people are resilient, hospitable and have shown unity in times of crises.
She said: “When we became IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) during Swat operation, people were so forthcoming in their support that we hardly ever felt homeless, it is this national resilience that is not commonly known in the outside world.”
She told students that her parents, especially her education campaigner father Ziauddin Yousufzai, had inspired her to stand up for her rights and speak for the rights of others and not be complacent.
She said that importance of education is known best to those who are denied this right due to hostile circumstances. She referred to her hometown of Swat from where she started her own remarkable journey.
Malala said Islam is a peaceful religion and Islam teaches its followers to be kind towards others. She said that the Holy Book of Quran forbids killing of human beings and terms the killing of one human like killing all of humanity. She said that the Holy Quran emphasises the need of education and the Holy Prophet (PBUH) asked its followers to “seek knowledge even in China”.
Malala said that her focus would now be on her studies. “Although I miss my school and friends back home, but it is a great learning experience at my school in Birmingham, where we are taught a great deal about Islam and other faiths.”
Referring to the Malala Fund, she pledged to continue her mission of universal education for girls in “every nook and corner of the world.”
Commenting on Malala’s speech, Adnan Rafiq said: “Malala represented and spoke for the oppressed people in Pakistan and indeed the world; the views she expressed about Islam, Pakistan and Pashtun culture will help dispel negative perceptions about Pakistan in the West.”
On the occasion, Mr Ziauddin said the bond of love, equality and harmony in his small family was critical in shaping Malala’s revolutionary personality.
“Malala is the greatest pride of our nation, and the brightest face of Pakistan in the world,” said Dr Ishtiaq Ahmad, Quaid-i-Azam Fellow at Oxford University. He said it was yet another milestone for Pakistan that Malala has been awarded Honorary Membership of Oxford Union which was once presided over by late Benazir Bhutto.